700-year-old stone cross found in England

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A 700-year-old stone cross discovered at a medieval settlement may have been an early "advert" reminding Christians to attend church, experts said today.
Archaeologists found the artefact in a remote part of Dartmoor as part of a student field exercise.

The cross was first thought to be a gatepost, but after some research experts found it probably served as a Christian signpost or boundary stone.

The team, led by Win Scutt and Ross Dean of City College Plymouth, stumbled on the object when surveying the ruins of a medieval settlement on the slopes of Gutter Tor.

No longer upright, the 13th century cross was not identified until the last day of the survey.

Mr Scutt said: "We had assumed it was a gatepost until examining the shape of the stone and the incisions. We were bowled over when we realised what it actually was.

"They are found variously around Devon and Cornwall and have different functions. Some go back to Saxon times and are signposts to church.

"They are reminders to Christians in the more remote parts of the parish, so people are reminded to go to church. It is almost like an advert. A constant reminder."

Parishioners would already know the way to church so the cross was probably there to keep worship in people's minds.

Similar symbols are found today in country hillside roads in Greece, he added.

Although probably unfinished, the cross has been chiselled from a two-metre long block of granite.

The head has three arms, while the shaft is decorated with a long incised channel.

The cross lies close to the ruins of two medieval long houses that date to the same period.

The survey was carried out as part of a training exercise for students on the University of Plymouth's Foundation Degree in Archaeological Practice.

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